Five Top Draft Prospects that the Philadelphia Eagles Must Beware
The Eagles have become very shrewd in analyzing and selecting the talent in the draft. They manipulate the draft board and fill needs while selecting the best player available.
In making a selection, the Eagles must avoid taking a player whose game will not translate at the NFL level. They must take care to acquire the best talent to fit their scheme and not over-reach for a needed position.
At this level, there are no bad football players, only better ones. Some will find what they need to become role players or even great in the NFL. Others will be thrust into bad situations that do not support their skill set, while more will lose their football focus with the multitude of potential distractions.
There will never be a guarantee amongst rookies, but there are red flags that will tip off a lesser hand. For the sake of the Eagles enthusiast, let's hope the Eagles stay clear of these five first round prospects.
If they do not heed this warning, let's hope these players can overcome my bias or that Andy Reid has a superior plan.
No. 5 Bruce Campbell OT: Beware the Al Davis Prototype
If Al Davis needed a safety, he would pick Taylor Mays, but they are most likely looking for help on the offensive line where the Raiders could very realistically invest in a player like Bruce Campbell.
Campbell is the freak of the offensive line class. He is a mix of raw power and poor technique who looked suspect playing against weaker talent.
He put up 225 pounds 34 times and ran the best time among lineman with a 4.82 40-yard dash. Measuring up at 6’6” and 314 pounds, one cannot deny the shear awesomeness of this guy.
Offensive linemen typically take time to develop in the NFL. Campbell could be a great player. He could transition to an interior lineman and he must have a good work ethic to be as fit as he is.
He needs to be coached up.
I have always thought highly of Andy Reid and Juan Castillo's influence on linemen, they have done well in selecting coachable talent and bringing them up to NFL standards.
There is so much offensive line talent in the draft, it just doesn’t make sense to get caught up in Campbell’s potential when they could draft a high quality interior lineman in the later rounds.
Campbell has too much risk associated with his suspect game play and the Eagles are in need of solid draft picks if they plan on polishing off this young draft-built team.
No. 4 Sergio Kindle DE/OLB: Beware the Tweener
This University of Texas product is arguably the best outside linebacker in the draft, but a linebacker’s success in the NFL is correlated to finding the defensive scheme that suits his skill set.
Kindle played “hand in the dirt” defensive end, not “stand up” linebacker, at Texas.
That may seem even better to Eagles fans who desire better play from the defensive end position, but at 250 pounds, Kindle will not likely transition well to a 4-3 left defensive end. In the 4-3 scheme, the left end’s responsibility is to collapse and contain as a priority over all out blitzing.
A 4-3 left defensive end needs to get to the quarterback with a great bull-rush. A more controlled pressure is on order, but pressure needs to come nonetheless.
Without adept coverage skills, Kindle could possibly play the strong-side linebacker position. The strong side linebacker will not be forced into man-coverage with receivers like the weak-side linebacker. And the Eagles could use a strong-side linebacker.
Kindle could play that position well.
But in the Eagles defensive scheme, the nickel package is most prevalent. They play the nickel nearly 70 percent of the time. It would not be prudent to draft a player that only sees 30 percent of the defensive snaps as early as Kindle will likely go.
Kindle could be a great NFL player, but he’s suited for a 3-4 rush linebacker role as a top prospect—not a great fit for the Eagles.
No. 3 Jonathan Dwyer RB: Beware the “Triple Option” Up-Back
Jonathan Dwyer was a ‘B’ back in Georgia Tech’s unique triple option offense. The ‘B’ back lines up closer to the line of scrimmage to gain more surprise from a quick hand-off in a change of pace ground game.
It’s an interesting offensive system, but it has that gimmick quality that reeks of poor translation at the NFL level. Not only is there a systematic learning curve in adapting to the terminology of a pro-style offense, but there are questions about his ability to read and react from a different position in the backfield.
In a pro-style offense, a running back flows with the play development having two steps to diagnose the blocking matchups and hitting the hole full speed. In the triple option, the ‘B’ back plays on the quarterbacks' and receivers' running threat. Dwyer relies on a quick burst to the line of scrimmage without reading the blocks—just full steam ahead.
Aside from the system specific concerns, Dwyer was billed as a big back with breakaway speed. Looking at his game tape, he appeared to be pulling away from defenders, but questions remained.
Was he pulling away because the defenders were caught off guard, frozen as it were, by the quick-hit running style of the triple option or did he really have great speed?
At the NFL combine, he weighed in at 229 pounds but looked soft. He ran a 4.59 second 40-yard dash having shed 10 pounds. That’s not the kind of speed that indicates he was breaking away from defenders by his legs alone.
He was once a first round draft prospect, but Dwyer is not likely held in such regard on current NFL draft boards.
No. 2 Carlos Dunlap DE: Beware the Troubled Underachiever
Dunlap is big, strong, fast, and has all of the desirable attributes of a top-tier, prototypical defensive lineman. When he puts the car in gear, Dunlap has been a dominant player at the University of Florida. He may be the best-looking defensive end in this draft.
But looks can be deceiving.
Against weaker competition, Dunlap looked like a man among children. When challenged by a tough player, he disappeared. The hustle was not there and if he had to call upon his raw abilities and dig deep, he didn’t do it.
Off the field issues, including a most recent DUI arrest also haunt Dunlap.
There is a reason that Dunlap is not the top rated defensive end in the draft and it’s not because he can’t do it. Nobody wants character issues any more than they want a player with a poor work ethic.
Put those together and it’s a recipe for disaster.
The game tape shows Dunlap watching things happen around him instead of fighting until the whistle blows. I found him almost jogging on the field at times as a play would be moving down field.
No. 1 Taylor Mays FS: Beware What Looks Too Good to be True
I’m not so sure that Taylor Mays is even a safety in the NFL. He started at the position for four years under Pete Carroll at USC, having been a clear-cut top-ten prospect had he left in his junior year.
Mays is without doubt, the most freakish athlete in the draft. At 6’3”, weighing in at 230 pounds, he hand timed at a 4.23 second 40-yard dash at the combine. In a case of questionable measures, the official record states that Mays ran a 4.41.
NFL network has some clever video technology that they used to simulcast an overlay of Jacoby Ford (official 4.28), Trindon Holiday (official 4.34) and Taylor Mays (official 4.41) as they ran their respective 40-yard dashes. The finishing order was Ford, Mays, Holiday. For whatever it’s worth, Mays probably runs a low 4.3 second forty.
Why not draft Taylor Mays?
One has to go to the game tape with Mays to see that he gives up more in reaction time than he makes up with his speed. The delay to react puts him out of position, forcing him into sharper angles that challenge his speed on plays and inherently puts him farther out of position to make a clean tackle or a play on the ball.
If he catches a hit right, expect any loosely buckled helmet to go flying.
Still, as a four year starter on an elite USC defense, Mays has only managed five interceptions and one forced fumble. Three of his interceptions came in his freshman year. He picked only one pass in his last two seasons.
Those are not the statistics of a player that knows how to apply his incredible raw ability to a football field. The guy is a project, a big one. He has the measurables to be one of the greatest of all-time, but he lacks the production history at safety to warrant a big bet.